Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Best Movie Posters of 2009.

The most striking images of 2009 were sometimes found not on the movie screen but on the theater's aisles.
While studios continued their tradition of unimaginative design for summer blockbusters (even if "Avatar"'s cliché design means bad posters aren't reserved for the hot months), weird floating heads and truly heinous use of Photoshop ("Nine" is the year's best example and my choice for worst poster of the year), some designers and marketing departments rose above the occasion to deliver graphic design pieces that would fit perfectly in your wall (some even in a museum) without having to make embarrassing fanboy justifications.

1. "Antichrist"
This Australian design for Lars von Trier's controversial masterpiece made a fuzz all over the internet for its truly genius use of design.
The actors, the director and even the film's title are downsized in comparison to the huge pair of rusty scissors that feature prominently in the film's most discussed scene.
The beauty of the poster though lies in how its effect is not completely immediate and we ponder on what would happen if those scissors closed.
More than a "Saw" for the arthouse crowd, both the movie and its stunning poster will give you chills whenever you think of them.

2. "Police, Adjective"
This Romanian New Wave dark comedy features one of the year's most chuckle-inducing poster designs. The one sheet draws your attention towards it and makes you want to come closer and read what's featured in its dictionary pages.
Like the best designs it also encompasses the entire movie in a single image.

3. "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"
Lee Daniels' film had one of the year's best campaigns, with each poster topping off the last one in terms of ingenious design.
While some have favored more the Saul Bass inspired one sheet I remain more partial to this impressionistic take on Precious which perfectly captures the character.
If an overweight, illiterate teenager from the Bronx was asked to paint a self portrait wouldn't it make sense she would do it with a rudimentary technique like finger paint?
It's a shame that in the movie Daniels had to stick his nose and not let the character speak for herself, in her own terms, like this poster does.
But that's another story...

4. "Broken Embraces"
What at first looks like Penélope Cruz done by Andy Warhol turns to be a fascinating symbol of the movie; it captures the colorful strokes of Pedro Almodóvar's aesthetics while winking at us on the plot's layered tragedy.
After you see the movie and notice where this image is from, the poster just takes on another level, it reminds us of art's possibility to reinvent a life.

5. "District 9"
Camouflaged in bus stops and streets all over the world, this poster probably scared the crap out of more than one person. It's clever formal design evokes the film's docudrama qualities while inviting us to learn more about what's actually going on by visiting the website.
And it doesn't even mention the film's title.

6. "In the Loop"
The year's zaniest comedy also has one of the funniest poster designs. Best of all is the tangle the string creates which on a fast look reminds you of the United Nations logo (that blue is conspicuous as well).

7. "Julie & Julia"
For a movie these days not to feature its leading stars' mugs in all of their Photoshopped glory, it either has to be an obscure indie aiming for awards recognition or a movie with balls.
Or eggs in the case of Nora Ephron's delightful movie about Julia Child and Julie Powell.

8. "Where the Wild Things Are"
Spike Jonze's adaptation of the beloved children's classic had the year's most sparse visual design and solved that eternal dilemma: how do you make tree tall monsters with horns and feathers believable?

9. "Up"
Walking past this in a theater aisle was like passing by an open window inviting us to jump out (or in?).
The brilliant movie made sure we wouldn't regret accepting the invitation.

10. "Bright Star"
Jane Campion's tale of star crossed lovers is perhaps the less original design in the list, but the image perfectly captures the visceral longing found in John Keats' and Fanny Brawne's doomed romance.
That empty space between their partly opened mouths describes the entire movie.

Which of these would you proudly hang on your wall?


Luke said...

Though I just did NOT like Antichrist (sorry!!), I must say that the poster is a powerful statement. Of the rest of your choices, I'd say I probably liked either Up or Where the Wild Things Are's posters the best. Does that make me too silly and whimsical? :)

Danny King said...

Thanks for bringing back my nightmares with that "Antichrist" poster!

I'm exaggerating, but that is a freakishly haunting movie poster.

Castor said...

Outstanding post. I completely missed that version of the Julie and Julia movie poster. That's priceless.

Excellent top choice and you just reminded me that I really need to see Bright Star.


Michael Parsons said...

Loved the 'Precious' and 'District 9' poster campaigns. Brilliant.